The Mystery of Letting Go

I tell stories about the year 1996. It was a year focused on becoming the best listener I could be. Spending the year learning to listen led me to a deeper experience in what it meant for me to be a leader. Further, in the process of study and learning application, I was molded into a coach whose only desire is to encourage individual Trueness.

Now, I will remember the year 2016 as one for critical transformation, opening me ever deeper to my own Trueness. Meaning comes from Trueness, the true self since the beginning. As Ric Gonzalez and I have discussed in our podcast work, it doesn’t matter which comes first, passion, presence, or purpose. We’ve found individuals getting to meaning as each stands with her/his own point of origin−a voice of passion, a voice of presence, or a voice of purpose.

In our first formal session together, Sean asked me how he would know when he had made the transition from what he values into beliefs that translate into conscious behavior, to that space where he would be doing what it is he does while being his true self. The vessels in my brain almost popped with excitement. I wanted to lay out all at once everything he and I would do over the next few months, but that would’ve definitely been too much for him to process in that moment and in the mysterious space he opened with his wonderful question.

My answer, for the time being, was that he would know he was in the mysterious movement of such transition (really transformation) when he found himself being present with each interaction and each experience. Sean and I talked about flow, in the sense of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work, as presented in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. In the last paragraph of this book, Mihaly states, “Just as we have learned to separate ourselves from each other and from the environment, we now need to learn how to reunite ourselves with other entities around us without losing our hard-won individuality.”

Unfortunately in modernity we have come to see mystery as something to be solved. In our effort to not know mystery, to be uncomfortable with what we don’t understand, we move quickly into fixing mode. In the process we have become very judgmental. Judgment is a barrier to any positive, collective outcome. The need to fix, judge, or control comes from fear. Fear becomes a shared emotion only because we allow it inside ourselves as individuals.

Letting go of judgment is part of opening to mystery. We contradict mystery when we allow expectations to control us, and attempt to control with expectations. It is an absurd cycle.

“We cannot be present to anyone or anything in judgment.”
–David G. Benner, Presence and Encounter

I cannot wait to show Sean his voice. Voice is a gift of being. Your voice knows its stand right in between your desire and your intent. When standing there, voice in full flow, letting go is simply part of your art!

Whatever opens you to Trueness − passion, presence, purpose − stand there, confidently. If anything in life & living can be trusted, must be trusted, it is your Trueness. Stand in the middle of your own Desire & Intent with voice in service, gathering, giving, and growing in the mystery of letting go.

Silent Freedom

Mystery
not the agent of fear,
of what we are afraid.

The absurdity of it all,
our angst, our anxiety,
fixed in a demand to control.

Whatever is missing
has been dismissed
in the waste of fear.

And mysterious still
how one might believe,
ever was there
any chance of control.

What then was dismissed
from fear, without thought?

Was it loss?
Was it love?

Providence not trusted,
in the flow of it all, it all
moves with us, or without us,
but so wants the divineness
of our presence.

In a loud world,
a distracting swirl,
silence is a mystery.

But silence we need,
for more than a bit, to hold,
and without judgment, release.

Letting go,
how can this be,
possibly be,
the way to steer,
a source to guide?

Simple it is,
to be led out there
one has to be guided
in here.

And the source,
the guide,
from your beginning,
is away from the fray.

In the silence,
in the depths
of The Presence,
is the middle
of your being.

Here, in the middle
of who you are,
since the start,
is inclusive freedom.

–J. Brunson

The Moment - by Anna Sabino

Presence – by Anna Sabino

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Your Rhythm in Leading – Part 4 of 7

Voice of the Leader Within

Hear the Middle Melody

Fortunate I am, and a blessed place to be on this interior journey, as I continue to learn how to firmly, openly know this middle space.

The exterior part of all experience has equally been a series of blessings. For so long I wondered why the rub against judgment was placed in me, in my spirit. Now, I feel I know why in my soul. It is because my calling needed a beginning, something on which to build a journey. I suppose it’s like the grain of sand inside the shell.

For this grain I am thankful, for it has played a part in a pearl of great price. On “price,” and such pearl, I have to wonder if the great part of price refers more to the cost along the journey than simply the generic value of a pearl.

Mayra’s story begins with a point of suffering on the inside–the illness of a child. I am certain you agree that we don’t need all the details to imagine, or feel, the sorrow of such a reality.

As a child, Mayra knew what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to teach peace. Peace is what she now teaches, in literally everything she does. It is how she does so that is the impetus for this piece.

The Messy Middle

Mayra is a very contemplative person. She is deeply moved by things, by experience. In each experience, she listens deeply to both intuition and to feeling. Everything she does and sees has meaning to her. This includes even the smallest of activities where many of us so often find our minds wandering to the next thing on the list.

Mayra’s challenge to us as leaders is to try to do everything from a place of love – not a place of obligation (moving our attention from “in order to” to “for the sake of” as Allen Huff’s dad taught). Her entreaty is to only do things out of love: while the outcomes may look the same as those done from obligation, the intentions are totally different. To not act from this place of love can be degrading, to self, to others.

While one may be “obligated” to do something, it behooves one to learn how to do it out of love. How does Mayra remain in such presence, and act in such grace? She said to me, “I’m inspired every single day. Challenges in my life have only brought me closer to who I am, to my humanity.” In limited human terms, she could find every excuse to hide under a blanket of self-pity. Instead, she released the leader within, the leader born in her Trueness.

Failure is not the opposite of success; it is just on the other side of the seesaw that is the reality of life & living, and of being a leader. There is peace in the middle melody –the middle stand as a leader. Only at this fulcrum of the middle do we truly release the leader within. Mayra calls this level of awareness the messiness of the middle.

In this beautiful, middle space, the external and the internal become one, the inner life and outer life are one. This is the point of the middle melody, if we only listen.

 Voice and Tension

Mayra’s voice is Respect (Civility). From this voice, she talked to me about how the work of a leader is the work of protecting humanity and the environment in which we find ourselves working together. We need each other. Although we may do individual work in our separate spaces, we are all connected. It is all about you and not about you at the same time. Welcome to the creative tension of the middle.

As she had described herself to me as a contemplative person, I asked Mayra to give me a visual of what it looks like to be a contemplative leader. Here is what she said:

A contemplative leader is present. You are aware of not only what is happening in the environment, with the people involved, but also very aware of what is happening with you. We are very complex beings.

Further, she said that if we operate only from our minds, and our ego, we do damage to those we supposedly lead, and to self. To avoid such individual and collective damage, Mayra implores us to “Stand in the freaking tension that hurts like hell!” I know that Mayra has learned to do this! From within, she leads. From within, she feels with us, hears in the present experience, and sees the impact–a rhythm made possible by trusting the unfolding.

We Lead Who We Are.

Parker J. Palmer, an impassioned teacher, believes that we teach who we are. In studying his book, The Courage to Teach, I found myself replacing teach with coach, and eventually with lead.

Coaching hundreds of individual leaders brought me to the conviction that we indeed most effectively (and affectively) lead from the ground of who we are. Imagine the discoveries we could experience if we consciously navigated with the sextant of who we are at the helm – our Trueness.

Working one-on-one with leaders–building individual confidence–has taught me many things. These many individuals, through the generosity of trust, opened me to what I’ve been teaching, and so passionately desire to continue teaching, Rhythm.

Like Mayra, I’m still finding a more abundant answer in how to continue teaching from the powerful calling of voice. She and I are learning to continually trust the unfolding. The essence of such trust can only flow because of voice–a courageous, conscious application of Trueness in each circumstance.

A Leadership Poem: Peace Betwixt

Mayra Porrata

 

Mayra Porrata is an educator, writer, publisher and  speaker on community health promotion, social-emotional health, personal peace, conscious leadership, social entrepreneurship, and establishing cultures of collaboration and support.

Soul Publishing Group
Follow Mayra on Twitter

Your Rhythm in Leading – Part 2 of 7

A Flight of Gratitude

Feel the Rhythm

One weekend evening, sitting in my easy chair watching TV, I heard a scratching sound. It seems it was coming from downstairs in the den next to my office. There is a wood stove in that den and something was in the chamber just before the stovepipe connection. I wondered if it was a leaf moving to a draft coming down the flu and into the pipe. I simply tried to ignore the noise for a few days.

Eventually, I became concerned that it may be a living … something. I got my tools and prepared a contraption to cover the opening once the pipe was disconnected. My improvised cover was a halved, gallon milk jug. Upon placing over the opening, I saw an arm-like appendage slowly reach toward the white glaze of the covering letting in light that hadn’t been seen in days. It was the hand-like portion of a bat’s wing.

I pulled on some gloves, placed my hand inside a black garbage bag, removed the covering constructed from my fear of what I’d find, and pulled the helpless little creature from his iron prison. And that is when the coolest thing happened.

I took the bagged bat outside and gently uncovered him on the ground in a clearing among the trees in our yard. It was a breezy day, and to be sure he was okay I stood right there with him. The little mammal was weak, but soon opened his wings and allowed the breeze to lift his body into flight. He began to circle me in a tight spiral for several rounds that kept going until he reached an altitude sufficient for going home. I’m convinced to this day that it was a flight of gratitude.

The Melody of the Middle

Through the years, Allen’s dad taught him about the flight with gratitude. Without gratitude we are grounded by the politics of resentment and the politics of vengeance.

I wanted to interview my friend, Rev. Allen Huff, and write about him because I know him as an individual who truly lives, loves, and leads from the middle, a position and stand where one can generously hold what too many quickly lock away in cast iron judgment.

The need to win over others (be right versus do what’s right), Allen believes, comes from fear; and fear is the source of vengeance and resentment. Strong in the middle with a commitment to gratitude is where we constantly find the energy needed to forgive, and be forgiven. To forgive is not about assuming an authority position over another. As Allen’s dad exhorts us, “Be grateful in the presence of the person where you find yourself.” To be grateful for the person, regardless of the circumstance, is a present moment practice.

“Doubt is welcome. But fear? We must learn to manage our fear and to Love like our lives depend on it. And, in truth, they do.” –from Sermon, 4/3/2016

Leading from the middle, in the power of gratitude and unafraid presence free of judgment, is where we practice forgiveness in our individually unique brand of leadership love. And, when you get here, to this middle filled with gratitude, you can now let go of either/or and truly understand, and live, both/and.

Your freedom is your rhythm. Freedom within your own rhythm is not to the left with desire, not to the right with intent. You only find your rhythm in the both/and−by consciously and creatively holding the tension of the middle.

Strategic Gratitude

Allen’s dad taught him to cultivate a powerful present-moment strategy for gratitude: to move his attention from “in order to” to “for the sake of.” Attention focused “for the sake of” changes the whole feel of the rhythm that is your Desire & Intent, and your solid, present stand as a leader.

Allen told me that to forgive is not about adding to one’s suffering, but about freeing all parties into the flight of relationship. In the realm of leadership, and as a leader standing firm in the grateful middle, forgiveness is always about more than just the issue or situation at hand. The leader who becomes accountable with forgiveness always sees farther than the manager of simple process−she gratefully holds accountability to the future, our future together.

The challenge we feel with topics like gratitude and forgiveness in the world of our work exists because we so easily judge one another, and assess situations as if there is a requirement to separate into right or wrong, and left or right.

What is it we have to forgive? It is paradox. Where is gratitude found? In the present. Paradox exists in everything we are faced with doing, especially in leading. And leading, in its truest form, occurs in the present and in the presence of others.

Living one’s Trueness, a true life, and the individual and collective rhythms associated, is essential to individual completeness and to collective wholeness in a needy world. Leadership is not about power; power over another. Leadership is about generosity−a practical appreciation (gratefulness) for those you lead, influence, and serve.

Thank you, Allen, for being a champion for freedom, gently showing us the opening that is there for our own flight of gratitude.

Allen Huff is the pastor for Jonesborough Presbyterian Church in Jonesborough, TN. Allen loves nature and is a skilled photographer.
Allen’s Blog

A Leadership Poem: Graceful Tension

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A Soul Dance with Presence

Life is not a mindless reality show with a panel of recognized and unrecognized names judging our dance steps. It oft feels this way, but it is not true.

Our soul dance is graceful expression only as we move in self-assured flow.

Such confident movement is the face of a voice-infused presence.

In terms of personality and preference, Judy is high in strength where I am low and I am high in strength where she is low. This is just one reason our mutual coaching relationship works well. In light of the coaching she gives me I can easily point to a main contributing factor; her ability to be present.

Judy’s dedication to presence with those she coaches is no surprise when I consider her voice of Integrity−a commitment to a robust balance of all the right ingredients. I not only see her confident movement in the coaching process, I feel its impact as she pushes me when needed and holds back when I must hold the thinking for myself. This skill is not exercised by the selfish−those dancing for the unqualified judge.

The glittering object of desire is often seen as the answer to all present difficulties. … It is a want that may actually be a way of stopping real things from happening. −David Whyte, The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationships

Judy’s soul dance is artfully focused on her purpose to coach others in situations of importance. Her desire is firmly situated in the present, grounded by a purpose allowed to freely serve another in the present.

How privileged I am to be served by her focused presence.

Skill 4: A Generational Alliance

True community is not produced; it is invoked and awakened. True community is an ideal where the full identities of awakened and realized individuals challenge and complement each other. In this sense both individuality and originality enrich self and others. −John O’Donohue, Beauty

Mentor as Teacher/Learner of Experience
(Skill 4: Networking)

From my generational experience, I−and many like me−have learned volumes about networking. A lot of the learning contains what not to do and what has actually never worked. So why do so many of my generation still tell those younger to do that same old ineffective crap? Are we demanding they pay some stupid due? This is not very helpful.

Building a network is probably the single-most important thing any worker in the 21st Century can do. Throw out the idea of the cocktail party schmoozer. Throw out the idea of the business-card-pushing conference enthusiast who can only waste precisely 240 seconds of their time on you because somebody much more important than you just walked in the door. −Ric Gonzalez

Mentee as Learner/Teacher in Experience
(Skill 4: Intentional Networking)

We thrive on sharing our world with others. Help us focus our efforts to build communities and participate in social networks in order to grow both personally and professionally. Also allow us opportunities to provide innovative new media to help you build your networks. Together, we have the tools and knowledge to further flatten the world and share our story with others that need to be included. −Jason Guinn

True community is formed by the collective of confident individuals−those who’ve been encouraged in their own voice and who encourage others from that voice.

Release Presence into Skill 5

Listening is the commitment allowing providence to move in the information shared between two individuals. Listening sharpens my awareness of the encounters while wading. Listening opens doors.
−Wading the Stream of Awareness
(Presence Chapter)

In listening free from judgment, you respectfully open genuine love for the authenticity of the individual. Happiness is for the present and for those with presence.

My grandmother was my best friend in my important, developing years. She listened−truly listened. She heard me in what I said to her when we had our wonderful talks. In my final years at the university, I was not far from her home. On many weekends I would drive through the small county towns to get to her house. She would cook for me delicious meals and complain that she could no longer cook well.

Commitment to your own voice and purpose opens the door for providence to bring your past and future together in the present. (Presence Chapter)

In the presence of my grandmother I was happy. I was simply and plainly just happy. She was a giver. There were no conditions. If you had a need, then she gave. In those years at the university I had a need to talk; to be heard. She gave, and gave lavishly, by listening.

It is experiences like those with my grandmother that I bring into my presence. They are treasures. And bounty such as this assures me in my future−a future that is not someday, but now.

My own voice of love, and purpose of encouragement, were so providentially influenced by my grandmother. For this I am eternally thankful … and I anxiously await the status of grandparent!

See sister post, Letting Go into Presence

A Purposeful Teacher (Expertise)

No longer am I satisfied by (and was never fulfilled by) divisional thinking with everything. What a distraction from the Story!

It was both challenging and freeing to realize I was not my opinions. Simply put, opinions come only from what is external to you: they are not representative of who you really are. If you are not judicious, these externally generated assumptions may saturate to a degree that feels internally authentic. They never are.

A common characteristic of any teacher I most remember is how he connected with us in the learning moment. The teachers that have long since been deleted from memory are those who, sometimes angrily, spewed forth opinion (a.k.a. judgment).

The teacher of purpose seems to embrace the authenticity of the student and how each individual connects for optimal learning in the moment. This is hard work. To the purposeful teacher, she is simply doing what she does best. I have yet to meet a leader who, when clear on purpose, does not also become a teacher within the realm of passionate expertise. These leaders teach from principle and lovingly expect application of what is learned.

For these leader/teachers, the message of impact is when the students become natural teachers within their own passionate expertise. Effective leadership is confidently doing the work of your spirit, eliminating distracting, divisional thinking, and modeling purposeful focus in the story.

Your Magic

It began in unaware impact;
the way you connected me to reality
and waved a wand of alignment.

In the light of personal vision,
each is a special expert.
Rebranded for balance and purpose,
you gave individual validation and holistic profit.

Now aware and authentically conscious;
in the macro, you lead me;
in the micro, you hear me.

I now know my own impact;
I gift others with powerful reality
and share magical joy in alignment.

−J. Brunson

Spiritual Service
21st Century Skill: Collective Facilitation
Book 1, Chapter Six: Focus